“Communication Is Everything:” The Experiences of Volunteers Who Use AACBy Trembath, David; Balandin, Susan; Stancliffe, Roger J.; Togher, Leanne; Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 75-86
Publication Date: June 2010
Study explored the impact of using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) on the experiences of adults with lifelong disabilities who worked as volunteers. Participants were 12 women and 12 men between 20 and 60 years of age with physical disabilities, of whom 18 used AAC systems as their primary mode of communication, while the remaining 6 used a combination of AAC and natural speech. AAC systems used were speech generating devices and communication boards. Two in depth semistructured interviews were conducted with each participant to explore his or her experiences of volunteering. Grounded theory analysis identified a number of barriers that need to be addressed in order to realize the potential of AAC access as a means of support for individuals with complex communication needs who want to volunteer: (1) not having the needed AAC system; (2) problems with AAC system design including mounting, access, vocabulary selection, and the quality of speech output; (3) difficulties associated with literacy; and (4) difficulties arising from interactions with unhelpful communication partners. Strategies for overcoming these barriers suggested by participants include (a) using multiple communication modes to adapt to the needs of different communication partners; (b) preparing before meetings and presentations in order to circumvent problems associated with a slow communication rate; and (c) increasing communication rate in meetings by using techniques such as asking searching questions to provoke discussions. This research forms part of a larger qualitative study on volunteering amongst adults who use AAC.
Published by: International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) (Website:http://www.isaac-online.org)